Information Minister Mr. Labaran Maku has appealed to the media to always set the agenda for the development and unity of the country rather than exhibiting partisan interest in the polity. Mr. Maku was speaking during a courtesy call by the management of Peoples Daily Newspaper who invited him to be one of the discussants at their forthcoming annual
conference with the theme “Nigeria, the 2015 Question.”
The Minister said as the 2015 general elections draw nearer, the media are supposed to provide the platforms for politicians to debate issues, programmes and policies and not to allow politicians to use the media to propagate hate messages and threat of violence if the elections do not go the way they want.
“The media must show national interest in their reporting unless we no longer want to promote Nigeria, then we are going to have the question as to whether we are really now serving our nation’s interest. Because I don’t understand why we are having an election in 2015 and the whole country is being made to look as if we are preparing for something other
than election. At this time what we want to see are parties preparing their costumes, preparing their dance troupes where they will go and dramatise during their own campaigns, show people, show cultures of Nigeria. That’s what happens in democracies. But here we are scaring the public, we are even making people to be afraid,” he remarked.
Mr. Maku reminded the media that as gatekeepers, their roles in the elections are not just to report events but also to moderate extreme views and comments capable of threatening the unity, peace and stability of the country. “You know an election depends on the atmosphere, if the atmosphere is heated up, then you are going to have problems. The atmosphere of the election cannot be resolved by INEC, it has to be resolved by the media and the politicians. So we need to work hard on this, I know it’s not easy but I think we can try to make the game simpler. We can try to encourage our people to have confidence that they are only
doing an election and in this election parties will field candidates, some will win, some will lose,” Mr. Maku said.
He urged journalists to promote national consciousness among Nigerians so that the activities and comments of the fractured elite do not divide the people along ethnic and religious lines.
The Minister equally encouraged media outfits to be organising fora for Nigerians to come and brainstorm and exchange views on how to enhance democracy and development of the country.
Speaking earlier, the Chief Operating Officer of Peoples Daily Newspaper, Mallam Ali M. Ali said the organisation is providing a platform through its annual conference for stakeholders to discuss and analyse issues that would likely dominate the 2015 elections.